The first woman has entered an already contested congressional race to replace Rep. Anna Eshoo in District 16.
Palo Alto Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims officially announced her candidacy to fill the seat amid Eshoo’s plans to retire at the end of her term. Lythcott-Haims is a progressive candidate with a mission to advocate for all residents, noting she brings a different perspective as a Black and queer woman.
Lythcott-Haims said her top priorities are affordable housing, youth mental health, climate change and the preservation of reproductive health care rights, voter rights and the right to choose who to love.
“Representation matters. I’m a woman, I’m Black, I’m queer, and I’m a parent,” Lythcott-Haims told San José Spotlight. “We’ve been lucky in the Bay Area to have such an incredible legacy of female leadership. In the post Roe era, why would we replace a female leader with a man?”
She said she fells gratitude toward Eshoo and wondering who could fill her big shoes.
“As that question began to be answered, I couldn’t help but ask why aren’t women running?,” Lythcott-Haims said. “So having looked left and right, I finally looked straight ahead in the mirror.”
Former Saratoga Mayor Rishi Kumar, climate investor Joby Bernstein, and veteran Peter Dixon are also in the race. Former Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki and candidate Karl Ryan—the only Republicans in the race — are also running for the seat.
California’s 16th District covers parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties including Los Altos, Campbell, Los Gatos, Mountain View and parts of San Jose and unincorporated communities.
Lythcott-Haims was elected to the Palo Alto City Council in 2022, but in her short time Lythcott-Haims said she has been “a staunch advocate” for meeting the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals by increasing housing density and raising height limits. She is a supporter of more youth, senior and city worker housing.
“I know how the cost of housing is impacting seniors and those entering the workplace alike,” Lythcott-Haims said. “And I’ve come to appreciate that despite our innumerable differences, we all want fundamentally the same thing: to be treated with dignity and kindness. We all yearn to know that we matter. We all want to know that if we work hard and do the right thing, we can have a fair shot at a good life.”
The councilmember has worn many hats. She is a mother of two adult children and New York Times bestselling author, lawyer and former dean at Stanford University. Lythcott-Haims said these experiences point to her track record on issues of affordable housing, youth mental health and climate change. In 2021, Assemblyman Marc Berman named Lythcott-Haims Woman of the Year, and in 2023, the NAACP of Silicon Valley cited her as Legislator of the Year.
Bob Nuñez, former president of the NAACP and current vice chair of La Raza Roundtable, said he is excited to see a woman of color join the race. He hasn’t made any endorsements yet, but thinks Lythcott-Haims is one of the top candidates.
“She is somebody that really not only talks about caring about community, but actually does something about it,” Nuñez told San José Spotlight. “She isn’t afraid to take on a challenge and I think it’s important that we look for persons that want to actually help us get things done and not just take up space.”
In her campaign announcement, she emphasized her “Third Place” events created to give constituents a place to hangout. She has organized local pop-up performances on city streets.
Lythcott-Haims also serves on the nonprofit board of Black Women’s Health Imperative, on the Board of Trustees at California College of the Arts, and on the advisory boards of LeanIn.Org, Sir Ken Robinson Foundation and Baldwin For the Arts. She holds degrees from Stanford, Harvard Law and California College of the Arts.
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